LAS VEGAS—Nokia is launching its comeback into the U.S. market by launching its new high-end Lumia 900 smartphone on AT&T's 4G LTE network.
The Lumia 900, like all recent high-end Nokia devices, runs the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating system, with Nokia betting the house on the platform after its two previous software initiatives—Symbian and MeeGo—fell flat.
"We believe that the industry has shifted from a battle of devices, to a war of ecosystems," said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, explaining his firm's decision to stand wholeheartedly behind Microsoft, a company in which Elop was once a senior executive.
Nokia Stephen Elop holds up the company's new Lumina 900 smartphone at a CES press event Monday (Jan. 9).
"Lumia is aimed at the heart of our strategy and the need to engage in this war of ecosystems," he added, saying the phone would be available imminently, but without announcing a release date or price point.
"We're going after this market and we really want to make a difference," said Elop, throwing down the gauntlet to Nokia's competitors and signaling the firm's intent to finally crack the North American market in 2012.
Nokia already has a strong base in Europe, and says it plans to also pursue more significant market opportunities in China and Latin America.
Joining Elop on stage, Elop's former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer called the Lumia "a fantastic system," and predicted the collaboration between the two firms would really "pay off."
AT&T Mobility's CEO, Ralph De La Vega also gushed over the Lumia 900, saying it combined "the best of Nokia's past with a terrifically bright future," and saying it was "built around people, not apps."
With its large battery capable of 1,830 milliamp hours of power, Nokia said the phone would be a true differentiator on AT&T's LTE network.
Despite staking its claim on the high end, Elop also reminded the audience that Nokia's lower end ASHA line of handsets were thriving in 76 markets globally, and that consumers were really responding to it.
Nokia is also touting what it believes to be its superior mapping capabilities, especially its Nokia Drive application developed for the firm by Navteq, acquired by the Finnish phonemaker several years back.
"We own it, which is great... This is an opportunity for significantly achieving differentiation for Nokia," Elop said. -- Additional reporting by David Benjamin, EE Times. contributor